If you’re new to keeping budgies or other types of parakeets, you might be surprised to see your budgies feeding each other, especially if they are the same biological sex. While it might seem odd or even endearing, there are a few reasons why budgies feed each other.
Budgies most often feed each other as a bonding behavior—by doing this, a budgie is showing affection and care towards its cage-mate. While this is a common behavior between opposite-sex budgies that are a mated pair, it is also commonly seen among any budgies that are housed together.
This behavior is a good sign that your budgies are happy and healthy. Keep reading to learn more about why budgies feed each other.
Budgies Feeding Each Other is Normal Bonding Behavior
When you see budgies feeding each other, it shouldn’t be seen as unusual behavior. On the contrary, when budgies of either biological sex feed each other, it is a sign of deep respect and affection between the two birds and a symbol of their bond.
Feeding behaviors like this can be seen between birds that haven’t known each other long, but it is more likely to be seen in birds that have been housed together for many months and have had time to develop a friendship with each other.
Though some animals may take several weeks or months to become accustomed to each other, budgies are a particularly friendly species of bird. Budgies can be safely kept together in the same cage after only a week of introductions during which the birds can see and hear each other but can’t interact directly. Doing this introduction throughout an entire week makes it more likely that the budgies will become sociable and display friendly behaviors such as feeding each other.
Why Do Budgies Show Affection to Each Other?
The reason that budgies show affection towards each other is for the same reason that many animals show affection towards each other—as members of a hierarchical society, budgies, and other parakeets depend on bonding through social systems.
Bonding behaviors help budgies get along in a group environment better. They serve an evolutionary purpose, too—budgies that are bonded are more likely to work together for survival as a group than budgies that don’t have an emotional investment in each other.
Similar systems of bonding can be seen in other types of animals that operate as a group, such as packs of lions or pods of dolphins. Most animals that operate with complex social hierarchies perform bonding rituals to strengthen the ties between members of the group.
In mating, these bonding behaviors in budgies also strengthen the relationship between mixed-sex pairs to the point of creating mating bonds. Budgies may not mate for life, but because of these deep social bonding behaviors, they will remember an old mate’s call for life even after moving on to other partners. (Source: Scientific American)
What Are Other Bonding Behaviors in Budgies?
Budgies feeding each other isn’t the only bonding behavior you’re likely to see if you keep more than one budgie in the same cage.
Here are some other behaviors that budgies display to show their social bonding with each other:
- Preening/grooming each other
- Snuggling together on a perch
- “Kissing” or other affectionate gestures
Like many other birds, budgies bond with each other through reciprocating gestures—such as giving gifts or grooming—rather than rough play like mammals would. Since tame budgies spend much of their time on a perch and they can’t fly together in a flock as they could in the wild, a lot of their bonding activities are sedentary ones.
Will Budgies Mate with Same-Sex Cage-Mates?
Budgies of the same sex will sometimes show the same kind of intense bonding behaviors that mated pairs of budgies display but will not generally mate with them. Instead, budgies that are deprived of the company of the opposite sex will often redirect their bonding and affection toward their same-sex roommate.
- If you have two male budgies that become especially bonded to each other, there’s nothing to worry about. This is common with male budgies, especially.
- Female budgies, on the other hand, will often become territorial or snappy when housed together. Female budgies are instinctively more territorial than their male counterparts, and less likely to engage in same-sex bonding behavior like feeding each other.
Can Two Budgies of the Same Sex Be Housed Together?
It is possible to house two budgies of the same sex together and achieve a level of bonding where they will feed and groom each other since budgies are a naturally gregarious bird and are likely to “make do” with whatever company they get. However, two female budgies are more likely to experience problems with hostility or territorial disputes than mixed-sex pairs or two males caged together.
This is just a result of the social hierarchy in budgies. If you have two budgies housed together that aren’t getting along, here are a few factors you must consider:
- Cage size: It is often easier to reduce territoriality in caged animals by increasing the amount of space the animals have to work with. If you have two budgies who are not feeding each other and are constantly bickering, you might want to consider doubling the cage size.
- Mixed-sex groups: Mixed-sex groups of more than two budgies can often lead to sexual competition and infighting if there aren’t enough mates to go around. Be sure that there are enough mating pairs to go around if you decide to keep large groups of budgies together to avoid fighting.
- Enrichment: Budgies that have plenty of activities to do to amuse themselves are less likely to argue and bicker out of boredom. Keep in mind that budgies are intelligent animals and need not only toys and other enrichment items to stay mentally active, but also plenty of free time outside of the cage to stretch their wings and explore. (Source: Arizona Exotics)
It’s okay to keep two budgies of the same sex together, and keeping at least two budgies is always a good idea since they are prone to becoming lonely. However, keeping multiple birds also means that you have to be aware of their social behaviors and stop any aggression before it escalates.
Is Budgies Feeding Each Other a Sign of Courtship?
In mixed-sex pairs, feeding and preening each other can be seen as a sign of courtship, and may indicate a mated budgie pair. However, this is also a sign of friendliness and bonding between any two budgies, not just mated pairs.
A behavior that is more indicative of mating is a male budgie that displays to a female budgie in the form of head-bobbing and ruffling his feathers. (Source: Omelet) The male will also sing to the female while he displays for her, so if you see your male budgie doing this, there’s no mistaking what he’s trying to get accomplished!
Budgies Feeding Each Other is a Good Sign
Overall, if you see your two budgies feeding each other, it’s a good sign that the birds are getting along well and have even become fast friends. If the birds are also male and female, you might also soon see other more sexual bonding behaviors such as the male dancing and singing.
This is a good sign that your budgies are being well taken care of, so if you see your budgies feeding each other, congratulations! You’re doing a great job as a bird owner.